Vanity Fair - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Vanity Fair Reviews

Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
September 10, 2004
It's lavish but lulling, and at two hours and 18 minutes, it's something of a bore.
Top Critic
Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
September 10, 2004
A less than absorbing adaptation of Thackeray's sprawling but sharp-witted classic.
Top Critic
Charles Taylor
Salon.com
September 4, 2004
Scene by scene and moment to moment, it's a woeful misreading of the book.
Top Critic
Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
September 3, 2004
Witherspoon moves director Mira Nair's version of Thackeray's social satire forward at a good clip, making Becky's rising and falling fortunes an intensely watchable spectator sport.
Top Critic
Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine
September 3, 2004
There is no depth beneath its bright surfaces, no potent emotional undercurrents.
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
September 3, 2004
A charming movie that falls short of greatness, but is still worth a solid recommendation.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
September 2, 2004
Even with a running time of more than 2 hours, this kind of condensation means we race through the story's second half in a time warp not aided by Nair's garish, out-of-nowhere and out-of-place Indian interludes.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
September 2, 2004
Though it's an accomplished production, Vanity Fair ranks as a standard costume drama populated by snide old biddies, aging lords and ladies, manipulative business barons and dashing soldiers.
| Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
September 2, 2004
We're left with an increasingly weak-willed protagonist and a narrative with no driving force -- no motor.
Top Critic
Ron Stringer
L.A. Weekly
September 2, 2004
Nair's turgid, melodramatic travesty of Thackeray's gimlet-eyed satire.
Top Critic
Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
September 1, 2004
Witherspoon's simply terrific, and it's amazing how quickly and easily she sheds speculation that she was too modern for the role.
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
September 1, 2004
By film's end, audiences are bound to be left dissatisfied with the choppy and confusing storytelling style and unhappy about the missed opportunity.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
September 1, 2004
Lively and mostly successful treatment -- at least until the barbs are blunted in the messy third act.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
September 1, 2004
A pared-down but wonderfully cluttered rendition of Thackeray's work, beautifully acted by a dream troupe of performers.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
September 1, 2004
The satire is sharply observed and the performances acutely felt, most of all Witherspoon's.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
September 1, 2004
A lot of things happen, all of it fairly absorbing, some of it rendered vividly.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
September 1, 2004
It's one thing to understand Becky -- do we have to love her, too?
| Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 1, 2004
The movie has the look and feel of an ornate runaway carriage that cuts its own path through town and country. With Nair at the reins and Witherspoon as the passenger, we are in good hands and spirited company.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
September 1, 2004
[Nair] clearly loves these characters, the kind and unkind alike. And the proof of this is that she makes them all so marvelously vivid.
| Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
John Anderson
Newsday
September 1, 2004
As a film, Vanity Fair has a lot going for it -- including acting and energy.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Lisa Rose
Newark Star-Ledger
September 1, 2004
Instead of a sly critique of hypocrisy and pretense in all social classes, the film is a stodgy, unremarkable costume drama with all the bite of a poodle.
Top Critic
Stephen Holden
New York Times
September 1, 2004
With its diminished gravitas, this Becky comes across as a lightweight schemer about as formidable as an aspiring trophy wife on a daytime soap.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Megan Lehmann
New York Post
September 1, 2004
Shoehorning all these characters and plot threads into one film is perhaps overly ambitious, but Nair makes Vanity Fair an elegant showcase for an unforgettable heroine.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
September 1, 2004
Crams in so many of the events and characters of Thackeray's 900-page novel that the story often seems to be moving on fast-forward.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
September 1, 2004
On the whole, Nair has mounted a handsome and intelligent production that holds nothing back.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
September 1, 2004
No longer a biting, satirical jab at 19th century English society but a somewhat soppy soap opera about social climbing and romance.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Carina Chocano
Los Angeles Times
September 1, 2004
A never-ending Western story that benefits from Nair's philosophically Eastern point of view.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Bruce Westbrook
Houston Chronicle
September 1, 2004
Nair navigates narrative waters littered by a shipwreck's worth of detritus; too many characters bob and sink.
| Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
September 1, 2004
This might be tolerable if Nair hadn't missed the central point, that Becky Sharp isn't sharp like spice, she's sharp like a razor.
| Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
September 1, 2004
A bit stiff and predictable.
| Original Score: C-
Top Critic
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
September 1, 2004
The company (in particular Witherspoon, James Purefoy and Eileen Atkins) is better than pleasant, even when it is behaving badly.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
September 1, 2004
A magnificent viewing experience, with each costume and set capturing the grandeur and squalor of both England and India.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
September 1, 2004
A highly satisfying period-style soap opera with heaving bosoms, elaborate hairdos and a sweeping look at history.
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
September 1, 2004
The peculiar quality of Vanity Fair, which sets it aside from the Austen adaptations such as Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, is that it's not about very nice people. That makes them much more interesting.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
September 1, 2004
A Vanity Fair with a lovable Becky Sharp has no reason to exist. It's as if Shakespeare had put Hamlet on Prozac: What's the point?
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
Top Critic
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
September 1, 2004
Graced with Nair's loving direction, Witherspoon's radiance and that great cast, it is a treat, if somewhat less so than the novel.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
September 1, 2004
Against such bedraggled antagonists, the older, well-seasoned character actors -- among them Bob Hoskins, Jim Broadbent, and Geraldine McEwan -- come on bright but loud, like gangbusters.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Anthony Lane
New Yorker
August 31, 2004
At the risk of being brutal, I would say that the Witherspoon of Legally Blonde, a far more bubbleheaded picture, was not merely sharper but Sharper than her Becky.
Top Critic
Leslie Camhi
Village Voice
August 31, 2004
The pacing feels choppy, and the characters' emotions are sometimes too sudden to be believable.
Top Critic
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
August 31, 2004
Like her heroine, [Nair's] movie bewitches, but lacks bite.
| Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
August 30, 2004
Very nice piece of work.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Variety
August 27, 2004
A collection of intermittent pleasures than a satisfying emotional repast.
Top Critic
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
August 26, 2004
The spirit of that most modern of 19th century heroines, Becky Sharp, remains intact, and Nair's Indian touches make for an intriguing, fresh approach.